In the years I had two boys at home with me and a hubby at work all day I developed a few routines that I continue today. Not out of obsessive habit, but rather because they work for me, for my family. I stumbled upon them quite innocently enough and thought maybe some of you might want to hear about them, maybe they might work for you. I’ll be sharing a few this week, but I tend to group them into what I call my weekly and daily rhythms rather than calling them routines. It is great to build routines/rhythms, for more than just yourself! Keep reading to find out why!
When my Cutie Pie was a little tiny baby I had a difficult time discerning whether he was hungry, tired, or overstimulated. I know this is something a lot of parents can tell naturally, but I just couldn’t. When he was just a couple of months old a friend gave me the best book, The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, M.D. It was just what we needed!
Basically, for a week I wrote down every time Cutie Pie woke up, transitioned to nursing, and then fell asleep. After just a few days I noted a pattern, and noticed that the length of time he spent awake and sleeping followed a pattern, too. What a God-send this idea was! I was able to get out of the house without a fussy baby! (I used this Daily Time Tracker form and you can too!)
I also began to note what activity we were doing when he fussed at a time he wouldn’t normally be transitioning to sleep or eating. That’s when I discovered he was sometimes over-stimulated. Previously I had used that fussiness to try to get him to nurse, thinking he was hungry and entering a growth spurt or something.
Putting these together I easily figured out Cutie Pie’s rhythm, his sleep cycle, his alert times during the day, when he’d be hungry, and it made it so much easier to get through the day without him crying and screaming and me being stressed.
Knowing Daily rhythms of your kids will help!
My example with Cutie Pie just echoes examples shared in this book of how even babies have daily rhythms ~ awake times, hungry times, sleepy times. If you think of the grand picture of our lives, we eat, are active, eat, are active, eat, are active, then sleep. It’s our bodies’ rhythm. It only makes sense that babies and children have these rhythms in their lives, too.
I’ll use the example of my friend, J. and her three year old little girl that I shared earlier this week. Sometimes my friend has errands to run during the day or goes shopping with friends, and does them whenever it’s convenient for her. She doesn’t have a rhythm to her day, just takes it as it comes. This may be fine for an adult, but with a little one in tow, it doesn’t always run smoothly, as you can imagine.
J. said that daughter is sometimes great for her, other times throws a tantrum or is very defiant. She mentioned her daughter doesn’t nap anymore, but is cranky and irritable in the afternoons whether they are out on errands or at home trying to have fun. She has also noticed that on days they stay home without planning something fun, her daughter retreats to a quiet spot and looks through books for about the same time as she used to nap. As I said before, J. sort of takes life as it comes, she doesn’t have a rhythm or pattern to her day, and expects the same for her little girl, who definitely seems to have a rhythm.
I share this example, because to me, with a little one who had a definite rhythm to his day, I can clearly see how J.’s daughter has a rhythm, too. Trying to work with my child’s rhythm whenever possible helped us have many more enjoyable times than if I had just lived life as it came. Of course, there were always times when this wasn’t possible. I wasn’t imprisoned by his rhythm, rather it gave me the freedom of a lot less baby-crying stress! (It also was nice to know when I could plan on having a little down time when he was sleeping.)
**Every mom is different. Every child is different. Some moms and kids can work through life rolling with the punches easy-peasy-lemon-squeazy. Others rely on rhythms and routines. There’s nothing to judge, everyone is different.**
I encourage you, if you are spending time figuring out your daily rhythm, to take into account the daily rhythm of your kids as well. It may make getting through your day a little easier!